Tests for Pregnancy: A Quick Primer

Nearly every sexually active woman has at some point or the other either bought a pregnancy test kit or at least considered it. About six to twelve weeks after fertilization, the fertilized egg is implanted to the uterine walls. Hereafter, hCG produced by the fertilised egg increases rapidly in your body, and doubled every 2-3 days in the first few initial weeks of the pregnancy. hCG stands for “human chorionic gonadotropin”, a hormone that is delivered by the placenta after the inception of pregnancy. This hormone is released in the urine and is the one that these test kitss detect.

Types of Pregnancy Tests:

1.     Urine Test:

A urine test can be done at a clinic or at home. Home urine tests are more convenient and about 98% accurate most of the time. Though some test kits can detect pregnancy on the first day of the missed period, the hormone hCG cannot be detected until the implantation which can occur anytime between 6-12 days after ovulation. A urine test includes a test strip or a dipstick which has to be help under a stream of urine or dropped into a sample of urine.

2.     Blood Test:

Experts suggest that blood tests are a no-fail method and can detect pregnancy earlier than home test kits, but are used less often because it takes longer to get the results. Qualitative hCG and quantitative hCG tests detects the presence or absence of the hormone in a woman’s blood. Another way to determine pregnancy through a blood test is by detecting the early pregnancy factor protein that is produced within the first 48 hours of fertilization. This method is deemed more expensive than a home test kit and also more inconvenient, but problems like ectopic pregnancy can only be detected with blood tests.

3.     Ultrasonography:

Usually prescribed after the confirmation of pregnancy to visualise the fetus, ultrasonography is also a way to determine pregnancy. Implemented at around four and a half weeks after your last period, it’s the most effective to discover the health of the baby and how far along you are.

How accurate is a home pregnancy test?

Majority of the home testing products claim accurate results even 2-3 days before missed period. But because the level of hormone production starts at 0 and increases with the growth of the embryo, the test could claim false negative when you actually are pregnant. It is best therefore, to take the test 1-2 days after the missed period because the result are more likely to be authentic.

The results are also dependent on:
Timing: The home pregnancy tests work best when used in the morning, and it is the first time you’re urinating. Early in the morning, the urine is more concentrated and likely to provide accurate results.
Sensitivity: The level of hCG in your urine.
Usage: Depending on the pregnancy kit you buy and if it is done as per the instructions provided by the manufacturer.

What is available out there?

One of the most affordable and accurate home pregnancy test kits in India is the Prega News Test Kit. Available for Rs. 62, it tests the hCG content of the urine with a test strip, and uses silica granules to absorb the moisture present in the urine to provide an accurate result.

I-Can provides dual-functionality, it not only gives you the news about your pregnancy, but also tells you the best ovulation dates for you, and acts as a planner. The tester in this kit needs to be used in the morning, and includes a disposable dropper.

Accutest is another economical option. Prices at Rs. 40, it is a product of Cadila. The kit comes with a dropper, which can be used to put a minimum of three drops on the tester.

After Prega News and I-Can, the consumers prefer Velocit Pregnancy Kit. Introduced by Dr. Reddy’s lab, it professes to be one of the simplest and quickest pregnancy test, providing the results within a minute or two. The kit comes with a dropper, a desiccant that prevents moisture, an instructions leaflet and a test card.

Hi-Tect Nova Pregnancy Test comes at a whooping Rs. 750 and is easily available online or at drugstores. This test advocates 100% accuracy and asks to dip the strip into urine and lay it out flat for a minimum of two minutes.

Things You Should Keep in Mind:

1.     Keep the kit refrigerated but bring it down to room temperature, before using it.

2.     The first urine sample of the day is preferred for 100% accuracy.

3.     Even the faintest of lines indicates whether you are pregnant or not.

4.     Avoid investing too many liquids as excess fluids can interfere with the hCG concentration in the urine.

5.     While appearance of one band implies the test is negative and two implies positive, if no band appears then the hCG level is low and the test needs to be repeated in 4-5 days.

6.     Clear View Pregnancy Test Kit claims 99% accuracy and comes without a preference for the first urine sample, you can conduct this test at your convenience.

7.     If you are taking any fertility related medicine which contains hCG, a hospital pregnancy test is recommended because a home pregnancy test might be false positive.

8.     If the home pregnancy test is used correctly, you get instantaneous results. A hospital pregnancy test can take as long as a week before you get the result.

9.     You can consult your health-care provider to confirm the results of a home kit, you should also consult her/him if the results are negative and you think you are pregnant.

About the Author

Neha Ramneek Kapoor

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